“If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you're putting yourself out of business.” - Lee Kuan Yew

It’s no secret that the small business world is a competitive one. If you neglect to keep an eye on your competitors, you don’t know when trends are changing, how they are engaging with customers, and if there are things you could learn from them. Doing regular analysis of competitors is important, and I am here to tell you why.

What is it Anyway?

The definition of competitive analysis is to identify your competitors and evaluate their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service. While you can track your competition manually, the best and most effective way to do so is by using specialized tools for the job. In fact, the end of this guide has a list of my favorites for you.

You will find that it comes in the form of a detailed dashboard with most tools where you can view all of their recent activity. This includes things like the number of backlinks they have (and where) compared to you, customer engagement, and increases and decreases in traffic. Plus, a whole load more that can be further explored according to the tool that you decide to use. What’s the point though? Prepare to find out more in the next section.

What’s the Point of Tracking the Competition?

 “Becoming number one is easier than remaining number one.”  – Bill Bradley

The reason you are bothering with the whole competitor analysis thing is because of your customers. You want them to be happy with what you have to offer, but you also want to make sure that you keep them. An added bonus is being able to snatch a few of your competitor’s customers while you’re at it.

You stay ahead of the game by implementing the aspects that are missing in your business. You take a good look at what your competitors have and ask yourself what you don’t. This might include changing the tone and style of your content, switching up your marketing campaigns, or reaching out to other websites to get valuable backlinks that you were previously missing.

The steps to actually implementing competitive analysis are also quite simple and easy to use.

To give you a good starting ground, I have created a quick rundown of points you need to follow:

What You Need to Know About Your Competitors

This is an important question, and one that needs to be asked; what exactly do you need to know about your competitors? There’s so much information out there, and it’s surprisingly easy to get your hands on. Most of it can be discovered through the tools that you use, but there are plenty of nuggets of information that are found through a good old-fashioned internet search.

When researching your competitors there are a few things you absolutely should know about your competitors including information like sales and profit figures, cost structure, market share, key personnel, promotional activity, customer satisfaction and issues, future investments and more.

Tools for Competitor Analysis

“Number 1: Cash is king. Number 2: Communicate. Number 3: Buy or bury the competition.”  – Jack Welch

Before I head off, I wanted to wrap this guide up with a selection of my favorite tools for good and accurate competitive analysis. I vouch for every single one of these, and while there are loads out there that do a great job, these are the best. Plus, their algorithms tend to be written using machine learning.

This is one of the best ways to pick up the negatives associated with an online business (as well as the positives). It is also used with sentiment analysis, which is used to see what customers think of you and your business. Take a look, sign up for a trial, and watch your business transform into something unrecognizable (in a good way).

Brand 24. This is a fantastic social media monitoring tool for competitor analysis as it lets you track multiple competitors at once so that you can see what they are up to. It shows you where they have links that you do not, broken backlinks, and the engagement levels they get with their audience. It even lets you rack hashtags so that you always make the most of them. This social listening software is more than this though, and it works as an excellent optimisation tool so that you get the most out of your business.

Sprout Social. The easy to read dashboard is one of the shining features offered by this tool, and it shows you everything you need to know about your competitors. Track their engagement, content, and audience growth quickly and efficiently. It works across multiple platforms as well, so you get a clear view of what’s happening with your competition compared to you.

SEMRush. This is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market, and it is amazing at what it does. However, it can also be used to perform competitor analysis. It gives you detailed results on a simple dashboard, including things like backlinks and advertising so that you always have a clear idea of what’s happening. It’s very comprehensive, and just one of many brilliant features.

Phlanx. This is used for Instagram engagement, and it works by calculating your engagement ratio. What happens is it takes the number of followers you have and determines the engagement levels according to the likes and comments on each Instagram post. Anything above 3% is good, and it’s an important thing to keep track of.

I hope that this guide to competitor analysis has been able to teach you more about the way it works, why it is important, and show you tools that can be used to make life easier. It’s an excellent way to see where your competition is excelling, as well as where you are lagging behind. You get the chance to fix the way you interact with your customers and visitors so that you can make their experience a better one. If you want to get ahead in the business world, you need to know what the competition is up to.